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Creating Safer Organisational Cultures

Safeguarding Adults Week 2021 has caused me to reflect on how our organisational culture has become safer in recent times.

Here at Norwich City Football Club, we are committed to creating inclusive and welcoming environments where everyone can feel safe, valued, and respected. Our core values of Growth, Integrity, Belonging, Resilience, Pride and Commitment are central to delivering this.

We continually strive to creating cultures where people’s views are asked for and they can feel confident to offer their own opinions.
We believe this helps develop and environment where all feel able to share their concerns and everyone can challenge poor practice and behaviour.

In late 2019 we introduced our first Safeguarding Strategy which shaped how we could implement a safe culture underpinned by solid governance, safer recruitment, safe practice, and workforce development. Using four safeguarding pillars; Leadership and Governance, Prevention, Protection and Empowerment we sought to empower staff and help them make vulnerability visible.

Since the implementation of the strategy, we have seen a 500% increase of reporting and recording of safeguarding concerns. Each one is evaluated and is subject to some form of intervention- no matter how small.

Over the last 18 months professional football has focused significantly on creating a “no blame” culture when dealing with low level concerns. Staff are encouraged to speak up when they see practice which may be perceived or found to be unsafe. A supportive responsive is undertaken and staff are taught to view such reporting as a neutral act.

Often these low-level concerns are very minor however I frequently describe them as safeguarding “inches”. Our core values help our staff understand how following this mature approach can allow us to gather a big bag of individual “inches” which accumulated has made our culture inherently safer.

We believe that confidence is the number one factor in helping us achieve success.

Our staff receive development through a safeguarding competency framework which intensifies dependent on level of contact with the vulnerable. This empowers them to understand how to recognise harms and how to respond and refer.

We encourage our customers and service users to feedback where our practice can be improved through various consultative forums. We are keen to learn lessons to ensure our response develops and help us to achieve best practice.

We are proud to be known as a Community Club with a fantastic charitable arm at the Norwich City Community Sports Foundation. The Foundation use the power of sport to support and inspire our community. Their charitable objectives are driving inclusion for people with disabilities, boosting mental health and wellbeing, and supporting disadvantaged people to raise their aspirations. The Foundation also operates a range of affordable services that provide widespread community engagement and positive impact.

We hope our ‘Canary Safe’ safeguarding branding will be recognised as a charter of safeguarding excellence and we will seek to utilise this as a tool to further reinforce confidence.

Finally, we are keen to thank our safeguarding partners who continue to support our progress. Advice and support from the statutory sector, voluntary agencies and other NGO’s is extremely valued by all at the Club.

https://www.canaries.co.uk/safeguarding

On the Ball City.

Gary Dack is Head of Safeguarding at Norwich City Football Club